Progressive Party Europe May/June 2024

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May/June 2024

As I write this, we’re nearing the end of May and as yet, the summer hasn’t made an appearance for more than a day at a time. But as Brits, we’re ever hopeful of some decent weather in which to gather friends and family for barbecues, head to festivals and celebrate any upcoming nuptials in the summer months.

In this issue, we’ve found out about what’s in store for the hen and stag – or in a rising number of cases, sten –parties in 2024, as well as group outings and parties.

We’ve also been discussing hopes, expectations and trends for the summer, outside of the exciting sporting events that are coming up, which we covered in the last issue. Festivals, garden parties, music tours and more, are all set to get consumers partying this summer, whether the sun decides to show its face or not.

As we near the halfway point of the year, we also sat down with some key industry execs to find out how 2024 has been so far and what the expectations are for the remainder of the year. It’s no secret that trade has been tough with the continuing cost-of-living crisis, but suppliers have weathered the storm and experienced some highlights in the past

six months. And with inflation rates falling, along with energy prices, execs were positive there will be more opportunities arising for the second half.

We also extend a warm welcome to our new guest columnists, co-chairs of NABAS, Claire Carney and Victoria Cooke.

Over in the US, the Halloween and Costume Association has recently announced its inaugural awards, details of which are in the news pages, so do get your entries in. The awards are open to both members and non-members and winners will be announced at the Halloween and Party Expo in Las Vegas in January 2025.

We’re heading into a quieter period now, but do please keep us updated with your news, views and opinions, we love to hear from you. Get in touch with katierm@max-publishing.co.uk and robw@max-publishing.co.uk if you launch a new range, a great campaign, sign a new licence, appoint a new team member, or anything else.

MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 03
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editor KATIE ROBERTS-MASON katierm@max-publishing.co.uk publishing director ROB WILLIS robw@max-publishing.co.uk Max Publishing Ltd, United House, North Road, London N7 9DP • T: 020 7700 6740 www.max-publishing.co.uk • hello@max-publishing.co.uk MEET THE TEAM
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EDITOR @Prog_Party_Eu www.partyworldwide.net
Party! 2024 Palmer Agencies Ltd Carnival • Halloween • Party 2024 2024 Carnival, Halloween Party instagram.com/palmeragencies @palmeragencies facebook.com/PalmerAgencies @palmeragencies  sales@palmeragencies.com  +44 (0) 28 9064 7119  palmeragencies.com facebook.com/PalmerAgencies @palmeragencies instagram.com/palmeragencies 2024 CATALOGUE OUT NOW

News: What’s happening in the world of party

Letter from America: Ed Avis head to ComicCon

Aspects of Association: NABAS makes its Progressive Party column debut

Summer parties: What’s in store for parties while the sun shines

Hen and stag: Despite the cost of living, hens and stags are still hitting the town

Executive profile: Gemar’s Gloria Veta

Industry roundtable: Halftime reaction

Copyright © 2023. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information in this magazine was correct at the time of publication, the publishers cannot accept legal liability for any errors or ommissions, nor can they accept responsibility for the standing of advertisers nor any organisation mentioned in the text. Views of contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers.

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If you’re a party supplier and not included in these pages – how will you increase sales? Progressive Party magazine is sent to buyers in almost every territory around the world – don’t miss out on your opportunity for growth. Contact Rob Willis robw@max-publishing.co.uk May/June 2024 FC_PP_May June 2024.indd 13/06/2024 24 39 21 28

Smiffys files notice of intention to appoint administrators

The statement said: "Following four extremely challenging years as a result of the pandemic, the subsequent supply chain crisis, and the ongoing inflationary burden on both businesses and consumers, Smiffys was required to take the difficult decision to file a notice of intention to appoint administrators.

"This does not mean

Rubies bolsters sales team

Rubies has announced the appointment of Luke Short as its new head of trade sales.

the company is in administration; rather, this allows Smiffys to explore a number of potential options, with the ultimate aim of securing a sustainable business for the future.

"Smiffys will continue to trade and fulfil orders as normal during this time, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank our talented Smiffys team and loyal customers for their ongoing support."

With a successful background in business development and sales strategies within the FMCG industry, Luke joins Rubies from an impressive career at major brands and competitors. His role will encompass leading the sales team and liaising with other departments to implement Rubies strong trade offering.

Luke's arrival at Rubies signifies a significant step forward for the company as it looks to expand into new markets and innovate its sales strategies. Having amassed extensive experience and demonstrated a talent for driving business growth, Luke is poised to play a key role in guiding Rubies towards continued success and increased market share.

The decision to onboard Luke as the head of trade sales represents Rubies' commitment to fostering fresh talent and leveraging industry expertise to propel the company's growth in 2024 and beyond. The Rubies team is excited to welcome Luke and eagerly anticipates the positive impact his leadership will bring.

MAY/JUNE 2024

The Big Balloon Build completes Indiana build

Around 85 balloon artists inflated over 150,000 balloons to create a balloon wonderland in Southbend, Indiana.

The theme for the build was an indoor carnival and the 12 scenes depicted a spinning carousel, ferris wheel, pirate ship, bumper cars, a rollercoaster and the largest McDonald’s balloon arch in the world.

Raising funds for Ronald McDonald House Charity, the event attracted over 5,000 visitors, selling out on each day.

Sponsors of the event included PremiumConway, Prima Balloons, Balloonia – La Fabrica de Globos and Borosino.

Amscan introduces Summer of Sport catalogue

Team Amscan is preparing for 2024’s Summer of Sport with a new dedicated catalogue for the occasion, with everything consumers need to celebrate sporting events this summer.

Whether it’s a school sports day, the Euros, Wimbledon, or the Olympics and Paralympics, Amscan has pulled together a handy diary tool to help identify some of the many occasions summer has to offer and the dates they fall on. From Team GB products, to items for all home nations, the wide assortment of lines is ready to help retailers and consumers celebrate.

Jen Wilson, head of design and marketing, said: “With the teams from the UK looking better than ever, we are sure people are going to continue to use this opportunity to unite communities and support our sports people.”

Wearables have already been proving popular for Amscan with preorders in patriotic shades as well as single block colours for items such as wigs, face paints and boas. Decorations including flags and bunting have also see a preorder increase for England and Scotland, ready ahead of the Euros to kick off in June.

Above: Amscan has a range of lines to kick the sporting party off with a bang.

PARTY
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The company has issued a statement explaining the situation.
For the latest news visit PartyWorldwide.net MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 07
Above: The Build featured carnival scenes including this ferris wheel. Above: Luke Short, Rubies newly appointed head of trade sales.

It's time to gather your Bride

Shower, Hen Night or something we have plenty of products altogether entirely different, to create the perfect way to celebrate! Order online now. you're looking to throw a Bridal Tribe! Hen season is here! If

@Sempertex.uk Amscan International UK ©Amscan 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Pioneer launches Deco Bubble marketing campaign

Pioneer Europe has been sharing a campaign focused on the Qualatex Deco Bubble Balloon called ‘The only limit is your imagination’.

The campaign points to the versatility of the balloons and the company has been sharing inspirational ideas featuring the Bubble Balloon.

Anna Hickman, Qualatex product manager, commented: “Even though the Deco Bubble Balloon has been available for a little while, it was obvious from

discussions we had at events over the last year, that there are still a lot of people who are yet to work with them, so we wanted to inspire people to give them a go.

“The great thing about deco bubbles is that they are designed to be personalised or used with other balloons, so they never go out of

fashion as they can be tailored to every trend.”

Tony Davey from Party on Up, Stroud, said: “Qualatex Deco Bubbles offer something visually different in a market somewhat saturated with products that look similar. They never fail to wow the customer and offer stunning designs [when printed] in addition to the flexibility of customisation.

“They are celebration agnostic; being as suited to a wedding as a baby shower,

Grabo plans expansion

Grabo is venturing into new territories with the appointment of Soo Chin Goo, a balloon market expert with 25 years of experience.

Soo Chin's expertise in the Asian/Pacific market, coupled with her fluency in English, Mandarin, Malay, Hokkian, and Cantonese, presents significant business development opportunities for Grabo in the region.

Her appointment further strengthens Grabo's commitment to fostering strong relationships with clients and delivering exceptional service.

Together, Grabo and Soo Chin are poised to make a significant impact in the Asia/Pacific market, offering products and services to meet the diverse needs of customers.

Grabo Balloons was founded in 1982 and became the first company in Europe to manufacture foil balloons. Grabo's success can be attributed in part to its investment policy, which includes a wide range of machinery, four warehouses for efficient service, a workforce of over 200 people operating on nearly 10,000 square meters and a team of 20 artists constantly innovating new product lines. With a catalogue of over 3,000 SKUs, Grabo also specialises in custom balloon production, providing customers with the best possible options for their specific needs.

Unique heads to Instagram

Unique UK/EU is now on Instagram. Follow the team on @uniqueparty_ uk where it’s sharing product updates, fun facts, news and giveaways.

Unique Party is @uniqueparty_uk on Instagram.

birthday, engagement or anniversary. They are, in my view, an essential part of a professional balloon decorator’s portfolio.”

In addition to sharing a host of marketing assets with customers, Qualatex teamed up with BAPIA to offer its members an opportunity to win two gift boxes of assorted Qualatex Bubble and latex balloons by running a Qualatex Deco Bubble competition.

Gemar strengthens sustainability commitment

Gemar has created a collection of 100% bio-based and FSC certified balloons packaged in plastic free retail packaging.

Having been the first balloon and party brand to adopt sustainability reporting according to GRI guidelines in 2018, Gemar is continually working towards improving its environmental, social and governance objectives (ESG).

The business has also signed up to the UN Global Compact corporate responsibility initiative and supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Gloria Veta, global brand and sales director, commented: “Sustainability is something we take very seriously. We’re continuously looking at ways to make a difference and this spirit has inspired us to create a wonderful collection of 100% bio-based and FSC-certified balloons packed in a neat new plastic free retail pack that is now available worldwide.

“The great part is that all materials used in the range are sourced entirely from FSC-certified forests under Gemar’s certification FSC C155424.”

PARTY NEWS For the latest news visit PartyWorldwide.net MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 09
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Above: Soo Chin Goo is joining the Grabo team. Below: Pioneer Europe shared reasons for using the Deco Bubble Balloon as part of the campaign. Right: Right: The new balloons are bio-based, FSCcertified and come in plastic-free packaging.

GET READY FOR PIE UK 2025:

The Ultimate Party Industry Event.

Join us for the highly anticipated Party Industry Event (PIE) UK 2025, hosted by NABAS, the Balloon and Party Professionals Association. Set to take place at The Slate in Warwickshire, next year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever with a glamorous masquerade theme inspired by the 1920s.

PIE UK 2025 is your chance to immerse yourself in two days of spectacular training sessions led by top-tier international instructors. The event kicks off with a series of fabulous classes focusing on creating statement balloon décor, followed by an elegant Masquerade Gala dinner where you can dance the night away with new friends.

Day two continues with structured classes from industry favourites and NABAS instructors, ensuring you leave with a wealth of new skills and techniques. The full package, priced at £349.00 + VAT for members and £374.00 + VAT for non-members, includes B&B accommodation on Sunday evening, the Gala Dinner, and two full days of comprehensive training. It is an incredible investment in yourself and your business!

Don’t miss out on the premier event of the party industry. Book now to secure your spot and take advantage of either full payment or monthly installments.

For booking and further information please visit: www.nabas.co.uk/event/pie-2025/ BOOK NOW

Rubies adds Hasbro to portfolio of licences

Rubies is expanding its portfolio again with the announcement of a partnership with toy and game company, Hasbro.

The agreement will see Rubies returning as the sole dressup licensee in EMEA for Hasbro, bringing to life some of its most popular franchises. The initial focus for the partnership will be re-imagining designs from the Transformers and Power Rangers franchises to reflect both popular classic and modern styles.

The new costumes and accessory ranges will capture the most beloved characters from both brands, allowing fans of the series to dress up as their icons in new and innovative ways to enhance play value for consumers.

Fran Hales, head of portfolio and marketing, Rubies, said: “We’re delighted to have Hasbro returning to work closely with Rubies as we expand our evergrowing range, with two of the biggest names in the toy market, Transformers and Power Rangers. These legacy brands have already made their mark on pop culture, but we couldn’t be happier to be bringing new costumes and accessories to fans globally, putting a fresh and unique spin on much loved characters.”

Marianne James, vice president, EMEA and

Asia, licensed consumer products, Hasbro, added: “With Transformers turning 40 next year and Power Rangers having just celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023, these beloved franchises carry rich history and continue to invite new fans to join in on

the action. We are excited to reconnect with Rubies to deliver high-quality, stunning dress up experiences for our fans in EMEA.”

Rubies’ official licensed Transformers and Power Rangers dressup is currently in the early stages of development and will be released in 2024. For more information, please contact your account manager or the sales team.

Pioneer Europe collaborates with Kristina Makeeva at the Shard

A team from Pioneer Europe showcased the beauty and versatility of Qualatex 20" Deco Bubble Balloon in a recent creative project at the Shard.

In collaboration with photographer Kristina Makeeva, the photoshoot took place in the prestigious Shangri-La Hotel. Over 200 20" clear Deco Bubbles filled with 16" Qualatex Navy latex balloons were arranged to create a magical image reflecting London’s famous skyline.

The images, art-directed by Kristina, capture the beauty of London’s skyline during the ‘blue hour’ after sunset. Against the backdrop of iconic landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the glow of the cityscape is complemented by the reflective qualities of the Qualatex Deco Bubble Balloon.

Reflecting on the collaboration, Kristina Makeeva shared her perspective on the transformative power of balloons: “Balloons have always inspired me, evoking joy, wonder, and dreams. They possess a unique ability to infuse any space with magic and celebration.

“When presented with the opportunity to integrate balloons into my artistic vision, I eagerly embraced the chance. By combining the aerial beauty of the city with the reflective allure of crystal clear bubble balloons, we’ve created a visual symphony that transcends ordinary perception.”

“It was an absolute honour and pleasure to work with Kristina and the Shangri-La hotel on this project,” remarked Anna Hickman, product manager at Pioneer Europe. “Seeing the city of London from such a different perspective and the reflection in our Deco Bubble balloons was mesmerising.”

PARTY NEWS For the latest news visit PartyWorldwide.net MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 11
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Below: Rubies will be the sole dressup licensee in EMEA for Hasbro. Above: Pioneer Europe partnered with photographer Kristina Makeeva for the shoot.
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BAPIA launches BAPIA.ie

BAPIA, the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance, is now offering benefits and support to the industry across the Republic of Ireland.

Currently with over 2,200 members, BAPIA offers a range of significant benefits to support its members, from free liability insurance, to discounts with wholesalers and on day to day shopping.

BAPIA.ie will enable balloon and party businesses in Ireland to join

and take advantage of the benefits.

BAPIA ceo, John Bowler, said: “We have been working hard to get the liability insurance cover in place for our friends in Ireland and after much hard work and negotiation we have managed to agree fantastic cover.

Immersive balloon experience heading to NYC

Balloon Story is set to open in Park Avenue Armory in July. The new interactive balloon art exhibition will feature over 600,000 balloons and will run from 3 July to 24 August.

Lasting around 70 minutes, the experience will allow visitors to walk through a series of inflatable sculptures and installations which will be created by 200 artists. Among the themes included are a July 4 celebration, space, snowy wonderland, monuments and under the sea moments.

Also featured is a ball pit, a selfie square and more. Erica Domesek, creative producer of the experience, commented: “This exhibition is a celebration of art and imagination. Each installation is designed to evoke joy and wonder, providing a magical experience for visitors of all ages.”

Park Avenue Armory.

“If somebody joins in Ireland they will get £10 million Public & Products Liability cover that is designed for the balloon and party industry, along with Employers Liability cover, Professional Indemnity cover and Crisis Containment Cover and a range of other benefits.”

The insurance cover is supplied by Hiscox Insurance which is a very large and well established insurer with a good understanding of the events marketplace and it has committed to working with

BAPIA for the next few years.

BAPIA members can also benefit from discounts with wholesalers, access to a risk management academy, access to a comprehensive legal documents library, support through two private Facebook groups, competitions, prize draws and more.

John said: “We are so excited about BAPIA.ie it really has been a labour of love getting everything in place and the interest and support that we have had from our colleagues in Ireland has been amazing.”

For more information or to join go to www.BAPIA.ie.

Rubies adds Bing to licensed portfolio

Rubies has partnered with Acamar Films to launch an everyday dress-up collection based on its preschool property, Bing.

With designs already in development, the new Bing range will be available to pre-order at the tail end of this year.

Bing has charmed little ones for years with established preschool content across EMEA, consistently topping the listings across various streaming platforms.

Fran Hales, head of portfolio and marketing at Rubies commented: “It’s incredible to think that Bing, a character that originated from a series of pre-school books, has now become one of the most well-known characters globally within the last decade.

“We are thrilled to be working with Acamar to re-invent the dress-up range for Bing and play our part in children’s early development and encourage their everyday play. On top of all of this, we’re overjoyed to be introducing the dress-up in Bing’s 10th anniversary year, recognising the impact he’s had on little ones for a whole decade now.”

Katie Rollings, chief licensing officer at Acamar Films, added: “Rubies are experts in their category and we are delighted to be working with them as we continue to build Bing in the UK and across Europe. We look forward to offering our young fans a beautiful range of dress up – a crucial play category for preschoolers and one that closely aligns with Bing’s ethos, as the show encourages children to use their imaginations and express their creativity.”

This new partnership demonstrates Rubies’ dedication to child development through imaginative play, while also ensuring its portfolio of licences is up-to-date with everyone’s favourite characters.

PARTY NEWS For the latest news visit PartyWorldwide.net MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 13 TOP STORY
Above: Balloon Story will open in July in Below: Bing will bolster Rubies’ preschool licensed portfolio. Left: BAPIA’s extensive member benefits are now available in the Republic of Ireland.
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Halloween & Costume Association launches new awards

The first annual Spooky Awards will be an industry celebration of innovation, creativity and all things Halloween.

Open to Halloween product manufacturers, HCA members and nonmembers alike, entries are welcomed for products launched in the last year, or set to be launched ‘in the next ten moons‘. While prototypes are welcome, ‘prior incarnations haunting the market do not qualify’.

Entrants need to complete the official entry form by 1 July, 2024. Members get their first submission free, with subsequent entries costing $50 each, while non-members can take part for $100 per entry. The submission fee is non-refundable.

Each entry will be judged by a panel of industry representatives, and will be evaluated against a range of criteria, including innovation, marketability, trendsetting potential, appeal and usefulness.

The judging panel will make their decisions on finalists, who will be announced on or around 1 October, 2024. Finalists will receive an official HCA Industry Awards logo. Winners will be revealed during the Halloween & Party Expo in January in Las Vegas.

Product categories are:

Accessories (wigs, shoes, hats, etc.)

Costume Category:

Adult

Child

Licensed

Most Unique

Non-Character (Non-Human, Inanimate Object)

Scary/Horror

Décor (electronic, inflatable, lawn, etc.)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Best application of environmental social governance)

Makeup Category:

Character

3D

Scary/Horror

Masks

Most Innovative (Open to all categories)

Packaging

Sustainability

For more information email info@ halloweencostumeassociation.org.

Home Depot sells out of 12ft skeleton in May

Following an early launch of some of its most popular Halloween decorations, Home Depot has already sold out of many of its products.

Having launched on 25 April as a halfway to Halloween promotion, named #CodeOrange on social media, the retailer restocked its viral 12ft skeleton, Skelly, as well as Skelly Dog, Deadwood Skelly and Frankenstein’s Monster.

Customers were notified of the promotion via Home Depot’s social media platforms.

Tyler Pelfrey, manager of brand communications for Home Depot, told Fox Business: “We are happy to see the customers’ reactions and enthusiasm for the Halfway to Halloween and #CodeOrange event… we are excited to lean into it and enjoy the fandom alongside them.

“Our Halfway to Halloween sale is for our most dedicated customers, the Halloween super fans. For them, building upon their Halloween collection isn’t a seasonal task, it is a year-round journey.

“Since his debut in 2020, Skelly and his friends have been growing in popularity and we wanted to give our customers multiple opportunities to get their hands on these innovative items.”

Skelly and his friends have been growing in popularity since their launch in 2020.

PARTY NEWS For the latest news visit PartyWorldwide.net MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 15
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Right: Winners of the new awards will be announced in October. Left:

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Our Vice President, Jim Cairns, is eagerly looking forward to collaborating with the entire TUFTEX team, including the owner, Allison, her sons Gage and Dominic, and daughter-in-law Meg. This partnership is set to be a game-changer in the decorator balloon category, with both companies aligning to build a strong, lasting and highly collaborative partnership.

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WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM THIS EXCITING PARTNERSHIP?

EXTENSIVE COLOR AND SIZE SELECTION: At Unique Party, we understand that variety is key when it comes to planning unforgettable events. With this partnership, we will be stocking TUFTEX products in all colors and sizes, providing you with a vast selection to choose from no matter your theme or occasion, we've got you covered!

EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION: Unique Party is thrilled to be the exclusive distributor for TUFTEX products within the UK and Europe to our retailors and wholesalers. It's our commitment to bringing you the most unique and high-quality party essentials.

We believe that this partnership will not only elevate our product offerings but also enhance your party planning experience. Together, we'll take celebrations to a whole new level!

Stay tuned for exciting updates, new arrivals, and exclusive offers as we embark on this incredible journey with TUFTEX Balloons. At Unique Party, we're dedicated to making every moment memorable, and this partnership is just one more way we're fulfilling that promise.

Thank you for being part of the Unique Party family. We can't wait to celebrate with you, hand in hand with TUFTEX, for years to come.

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IT’S POPPIN’ EVENTS POP CHARLOTTE BALLOONS CHARMING GARLANDS

Cosplay has been touted as an important new market for costume businesses in recent years and we’ve promoted it in Costumer magazine, on the NCA website and through webinars. But personally I had never seen much cosplay up close. So when NCA board member, Courtland Hickey, owner of Chicago Costume, invited me to C2E2 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo in mid-April, I accepted.

A first-timer’s experience at ComicCon

MY IMPRESSIONS? SOME THINGS WERE EXACTLY AS I EXPECTED, AND OTHERS WERE RATHER UNEXPECTED.

This was expected I didn’t wear a costume and I was a little nervous going to the event, thinking that I would be among the few un-costumed attendees. That turned out not to be the case. A lot of people were not wearing costumes, especially when I got there, which was before the general public was let in. However, once the doors opened to the public, people in all sorts of costumes arrived. They ranged from well-known comic book characters – Batman, for example – to more obscure outfits. Well, they were obscure to me, at least. One young man dressed in a red and white sailor costume was pushing a giant model of a battleship on a wheeled platform. I had no clue who he was, but the next day there was a photo of him in the Chicago Sun-Times and the caption informed that he was portraying Captain Kodai from Space Battleship Yamato. What I loved to see and this was expected, was how comfortable all of these individuals felt in this place with their costumes. I’m guessing the guy in the Captain Kodai outfit did not normally wear that out in public, but here he fitted in perfectly. Not only were all the costumed attendees seemingly comfortable, they were celebrated. People were taking pictures of each other all over the place and photographers were roaming about taking photos of the most interesting attendees. The overall vibe of the event was ‘do your own thing and show it off’.

Another impressive aspect that I knew would exist was the immense amount of creativity evident among the attendees and exhibitors. The skill level of many of them – in costume design, sewing, make-up, decorating, etc – was top level. Some of the attendees could have easily been professionals in their respective area and some probably were.

The commerce also was expected. Courtland himself had a large exhibition space filled with interesting stuff that attendees bought – swords, helmets, weapons, etc. He told me he regularly sells at such events and that they are worthwhile for him. He had a lot of company – there were booths selling everything from fancy dice, to elaborate

weaponry, to figurines to…of course… comic books and movie memorabilia.

Which leads to me the unexpected….

This was not expected

I knew creativity plays a major role in cosplay, but I assumed this creativity would be confined to costuming and makeup. That was not the case.

A giant section of the exhibit hall was set aside for artists to display their paintings, drawings and other artwork. What they depicted fitted the mood – it was mostly comic book characters and scenes, as well as abstract art and futuristic images.

The art section (they called it Artist Alley) was crowded. In some cases lines of people waiting to meet a particular artist snaked down the aisles. I loved seeing that – art does not get enough respect, in my opinion, so I was heartened to see so many people enthused about seeing and buying art.

Another unexpected element of the event was the number of book vendors. As with the art, the books generally fit the theme – fantasy, horror, movies, etc. There were dozens of publishers and booksellers offering their goods to a receptive audience. In many cases authors were also on-hand to sign the books as they were being sold.

I have no idea how much artwork or books were sold, but judging by the number of exhibitors in those areas, I’m assuming they find such events worth the investment. It was truly encouraging to me to see so many creative people successfully vending their wares.

So thank you, Courtland, for inviting me to this event. It was eyeopening and fun and my respect for cosplay and its accompanying commerce has grown because of it.

COLUMNIST MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 19
Left: Ed Avis is the executive director of the National Costumers Association Contact him at executivedirector@costumers.org.
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What toy or gadget from your childhood makes you feel nostalgic? The popularity of retro items remains strong and it is interesting to see the different generational responses. For those who remember the item first time around, it will usually invoke some memories and for those who haven’t seen it before, there may be a sense of either wonder or disbelief at the way things used to be.

What goes around, comes around

What goes around, comes around and this circularity is just as visible in the balloon industry. While the Covid period caused a huge level of disruption to the country’s financial status, many people who were stuck at home or unable to work turned to balloons as an alternative income stream.

The rise in free, predominantly organic, online tutorials by people both with and without credible experience, quickly attracted people into the industry. Prior to this, classic décor was a decorator’s traditional bread and butter work and still is for many and while organics are undoubtedly here to stay, classic décor is coming back into prominence again, with a few twists.

For those who are new to balloons, the speed and precision of classic work can be quite an eye opener and a real contrast to the organic style that initially brought them into our sector.

There is no doubt that now is a tough time for manufacturers, wholesalers and decorators alike. It is apparent from many balloon forums that lots of balloon businesses are closing. While the free, online training focused on creating displays, it left many ill prepared to charge correctly for their work, resulting in an unsustainable business.

Balloons are generally seen as recession proof as consumers have a range of price points they can choose from to meet their

requirements, but despite this, the cost-of-living crisis, the need for a more regular income and generally returning to the pre-pandemic norm, have all contributed to the postCovid closures that we are seeing.

At NABAS, the UK’s independent trade association for the balloon and party industry, we strongly promote correct pricing in all our training classes, ensuring that not only materials and labour, but also overheads and profit are built into this simple calculation. Costing your work properly and promoting designs that are both profitable and enjoyable to produce, will help to build confidence in your work and your business. Combine this with our industry specific insurance, a raft of member resources and benefits, plus access to a group of fellow balloonies to ask questions of and it provides support and reassurance to help ride out this turbulent period.

Not only do we support our members, but we also reach a hand out to all those in the balloon and party sector. It is going to become more and more important that we pull together to safeguard our industry as much as we can. With events such as our free quarterly online conventions and our signature Party Industry Event in 2025, we aim to build and strengthen relationships between manufacturers, wholesalers and decorators.

Working together in an environment of respect, collaboration and with a wider vested interest, we can achieve so much more and drive the industry forward, preparing it and our members for when stronger trading conditions inevitably return. And is it controversial to ask whether mullet haircuts should be the only thing banned from ever making a comeback?

ASPECTS OF ASSOCIATION: NABAS
MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 21
Left: Claire Carney and Victoria Cooke. Left and below: NABAS events such as Party Industry Event 2025 aim to build and strengthen relationships between manufacturers, wholesalers and decorators.

Half time

reaction

As

we reach the halfway point in 2024, PPE catches up with key industry execs Fran Hales, head of marketing and portfolio, Rubies; Elliott Peckett, director, Smiffys; Fraser Smeaton, co-founder and ceo, Morphsuits; and Edwin Klein, key account manager, Opposuits, to find out how the year has been so far and what expectations are for the second half.

What has been your highlight of 2024 so far?

a challenge, we are seeing less spending power with consumers for non-essential goods and increased financial constraints. Although the year has been challenging, we are confident of an upturn ahead, due to our investment in fulfilment services, POS solutions, along with toyetic products. We also have a very strong portfolio of licensed, generic and plush products for 365 everyday play, which we believe will drive demand.”

Elliott: “We started the year with successful trade show season, followed by World Book Day. This year, schools seemed to be backing dress-up once again for Book Day and sales (and social media) reflected this. The cost of living continues to have an impact on the party

industry as a whole, as customers tighten their budgets on non-essential spending.”

“I think the first part of 2024 has been as good as can have been expected for the industry as whole. We are trading just ahead of last year and are pleased with that, as the first months of 2023 were very strong - driven by the first European carnival after Covid and the Coronation in the UK. We were worried that could have meant a slow first half, but that hasn’t happened.”

Edwin: “We had a somewhat slow start to 2024. One of the reasons was an early Carnival this year, which meant that the sales window from Christmas to Carnival was very tight. Because of the onesies as a new product category, we were able to fill that gap a bit. It must be noted that this, of course, is compared to a very strong year after Covid.”

Edwin: “We can without a doubt hand the crown to the introduction of our Onesie category. This became one of our instant new top items. There will be some product developments within this category, but in addition also broaden this range with strong designs and licensing. In addition, the fairs in Europe, as well as in the US, have been great for us to catch up with suppliers and customers in the industry.”

Elliott: “Trade show season has been a real highlight of the year so far for us at Smiffys. Our second year back at London Toy Fair was successful – there was a great energy about the show and we made so many new connections. Spielwarenmesse was also a great show for us, with positive feedback on our new products, many successful meetings and a good old party.”

Fraser: “Keeping Carnival sales flat with last year, despite our expectations that it could be lower.”

Fran: “The highlight for 2024 so far would have to be World Book Day. With the introduction of our World of Walliams range, we’re pleased to report excellent sales for the first year of having

24 MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE HALF TIME FEEDBACK
Above: Morphcostumes expects the rest of the year to be positive. Left: Smiffys is looking forward to a strong summer with the Euros and Olympics taking place. Bottom row: Fran Hales, head of marketing and portfolio, Rubies; Edwin Klein, key account manager, Opposuits, Elliott Peckett, director, Smiffys; and Fraser Smeaton, co-founder and ceo, Morphsuits;.

the license and our Billionaire Boy and Spaceboy styles even sold out completely before the event. On top of this, it’s been great to see fans of our product come together as a community online to celebrate reading.

“Other than that, we’ve had a bumper 2024 so far with new licenses being acquired, including Hasbro. With a long legacy at the heart of the toy industry, we’re excited to be able to bring Transformers and Power Rangers to life for a new generation of fans in exciting ways consumers haven’t seen before.”

What have the biggest challenges and opportunities been so far?

Fraser: “Our biggest challenges have been preparing for all the fee changes from Amazon in the US. Our biggest opportunity is to continue to improve the content we have for each of our costumes and use that to improve our conversion rates and drive more sales.”

Fran: “Where others see challenges, we see opportunity. We see gaps in the market for licensed products that are not your typical role play sets, it’s part of our everyday play strategy to innovate and elevate evergreen and new properties, taking the consumer on a whole new dress-up experience.”

Edwin: “We faced some stock challenges at the start of the low season after Carnival. With regular sales and normal daily tasks going further, we had to really start mapping the availability and how we handle this along all sales channels. This forced us to put our heads together with several teams to still provide everyone with great service and supply. This also created an opportunity for us to work on communication between the departments within the company. We will keep improving our efficiency and management processes, which will guarantee positive results. We are in this together.”

Elliott: “The cost-of-living crisis remains a challenge to us and because of this, we have seen sales shift towards accessories over costumes. We’ve seen this as an opportunity to expand our accessory offering, with new accessories launching across all seasons for us in 2024.

Customers are also choosing to celebrate their events at home to save money. This brings its own opportunities for the party industry, with themed celebrations and décor gaining popularity.”

What are your hopes and expectations for the remainder of 2024?

Elliott: “We’re looking forward to Halloween - as always. With strong forward orders for the season, we’re expecting a great Halloween this year

as the big day creeps nearer to the weekend. This summer Europe plays host to the Euros and Olympics, with plenty of opportunity for dressing up and partying, we’re excited for a summer of sport.”

Fran: “Looking ahead to the remainder of 2024, our hope is to continue building on the first half of the year. We aim to introduce exciting new products, expand our partnerships with popular franchises and we have the biggest entertainment properties such as Deadpool & Wolverine and Beetlejuice Beetlejuice.”

Fraser: “I expect the remainder of 2024 to be good. Cost of living pressures are easing and a Thursday Halloween will be better than the Tuesday we had in 2023, giving us a last quarter. I also know that we have a wide range of great new products launching this year.”

Edwin: “With our new head of marketing Jean-Marc Honig, we hope to make some huge steps within our communication strategies. We hope to really set up a narrative that reflects our story and who we are even more.”

What do you expect to be the biggest challenges and opportunities for the rest of the year?

Fran: “One of the biggest challenges we anticipate is the unpredictability of consumer preferences and trends. Staying on top of these changes and consistently delivering innovative and sought-after costumes, will require continuous market research and agility in product development.

“On the other hand, the opportunity lies in the sustained growth of the themed events and party industry. We expect an increased demand for costumes, accessories and props, providing us with opportunities to expand our product offerings and reach new markets. Embracing sustainability and eco-friendly practices also presents an opportunity to cater to the growing environmentally conscious consumer.

“Overall, we are excited about the prospects for the remainder of 2024 and are committed

to providing exceptional costumes and accessories that enable our customers to unleash their creativity and imagination.”

Edwin: “Halloween will be a really big season for us. With new movies coming out for which we have some strong character suits in our Suitmeister range, we have huge expectations for this season. After our new Sonic the Hedgehog license, we can also take profit of this moment with a movie coming out in December. The amount of pre-orders and positive feedback we receive shows a lot of trust in our products from the market, which we are grateful for. This challenges us to keep innovating and ensure growth within the industry.”

Fraser: “As usual the biggest challenge will be getting Halloween products to where they need to be in time for the season. The biggest opportunity will be to launch our range of new products into all markets for what should be a good Halloween.”

“The summer months are usually a challenge for us, but we’re expecting this year to be busier due to the key sporting events on top of festival and Pride season. As we enter our busiest period of the year in the run up to Halloween, we will be ready to supply our trade customers with top-up orders, supporting them to help make this year the biggest Halloween season yet.”

MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 25
HALF TIME FEEDBACK
Left: Rubies reported excellent sales for Book Day for its first year offering the World of Walliams license. Below: Trade shows at the beginning of the year were one of the highlights of 2024 so far for Opposuits.

Get ready for a Summer of have you got everything you have everything you could need?! Here at Amscan we want, to throw the ultimate party to support your team! Olympics nearly upon us, Sport. With the Euros and

Bring the Party to Life with Amscan’s collection of party products, balloons, and costumes create great excitement for all ages!

Amscan International UK ©Amscan 2024. All Rights Reserved.
Amscan International
Amscan International UK ©Amscan 2024. All Rights Reserved. Partyware Balloons Costumes International UK ©Amscan 2024. All Rights Reserved. Garden parties and BBQ Amscan we have everything ultimate celebration, no you need to throw the matter the theme! Head to amscan.co.uk to order now! but are you ready?! Here at season is fast approaching...

In the UK, we can’t always guarantee

Summer vibes

While there’s an epic summer of sport coming in 2024, the warmer months also bring huge opportunity for the party industry, with summer parties, barbecues and outdoor events allowing consumers to get together and party more. PPE finds out what’s in store this year from the key suppliers.

events such as the Euros and the Olympics, in addition to the hundreds of festivals that are planned. Hence there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the coming months.”

draws near, anticipation mounts for spontaneous BBQs, garden gatherings, delightful picnics, and outdoor birthday celebrations. A prevailing trend is the timeless pattern of gingham and the fun, bright theme of strawberries.

“Businesses can capitalise on the season by showcasing summer stock prominently, highlighting key items in captivating window displays and social media posts, enticing customers with multi-offers on essential summer party supplies.”

Gemar has seen a big appetite for neon. Gloria Veta, global brand and sales director comments: “The neon trend is once again a must this summer, starting with the neon themed Coachella afterparty – the Neon Carnival. A massive bash where big name DJs from all over the world gather in one place for a night underneath the stars.”

Licences and Pride are key for Rubies in the summer season. “We are excited to see everyone coming together in celebration of the Pride season, not to mention the summer itself is an excelling opportunity for outdoor parties and festivals,” expands Fran Hales, head of portfolio and marketing.

“Summer sees a peak in certain licensed products outside of content windows and one of our standout performers is the Teletubbies. Festival goers and stag dos embrace the Teletubbies due to the power of nostalgia and the way the brand has tapped into the adult market.

“We also expect to see a boost in our licensed costumes particularly across

Jen Wilson, head of design and marketing at Amscan, agrees: “Amscan is really looking forward to a fabulous summertime. In addition to the standard array of garden parties, backyard Luaus and barbecues, 2024 is also set with fabulous sporting occasions and music events, so there are plenty of reasons to celebrate.

“Our fabulous Tiki bar and décor kit are perfect for bringing summer fun to your garden, with inflatables, ice buckets and tableware and Flamingo, Tiki Tropical and Colour themed designs to choose from.

“And with so many exciting music events including big weekends, festivals and music tours, our range of festival costumes and accessories are the perfect place to start.”

There are some key trends emerging, as Holly Burgin, sales executive at Unique, outlines: “As the warmth of the summer

Above Left: Decades remain a strong theme for Smiffys with 60s and 70s themes always strong in the summer. Above: Opposuits has a range of swim shorts in popular licences including Pokemon, ideal for pool parties this summer.
FOCUS ON: SUMMER EVENTS
Left: Cazaar is ready for the Swifties to descend on the Eras tour with a new range of cowboy hats this summer.
28 MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE

Marvel and Miraculous Ladybug due to upcoming series and film releases this year. We’re expecting summertime to be the peak season for accessories as they offer customers the opportunity to build their costumes for festivals and the Pride season.”

Opposuits is seeing sales increase for sets.

“We see a trend in sales of our summers sets. We have some printed summer sets which are somewhere in between party and fashion that seem to get more and more traction,” says Edwin Klein, key account manager. “With an event such as King’s Day in the Netherlands, we see a boost with these items.

“With this coming summer featuring sports events, as well as festivals, bachelor and garden parties, we see some great opportunities. Not only with our summer sets, but also our newly added swim shorts, summer suits, Hawaiians and summer shirts.

“With unpredictable weather, we can always count on our complete suits that feature some new and existing colours with a summer feeling too.”

Smiffys has highlighted a number of trends. “Summer can be a quiet time in the industry calendar between our busiest periods, but there are ample opportunities to dress up and party,” says director, Dominique Peckett. “The Euros and the Olympics will bring the country together and every England match is an excuse for a party. Our supporters range is set to be a winner this summer as we expect to see flags and bunting everywhere.

“Festival season will soon be upon us and we have expanded our accessory range this year to meet demand. The western trend isn’t going anywhere and novelty costumes and accessories are a festival staple year after year. Decades remain a strong theme and summer of love 60s and 70s costumes are always a hit.”

Another great opportunity in the summer is wedding season. Julie Dommett, head of marketing at Pioneer Europe tells PPE: “The classic summer

creative director, explains: “Cazaar is going from strength to strength with a record 400% year-on-year growth. This gives us such a positive insight for the upcoming season. Summer is just around the corner and we have no doubt our range of England tableware will be a main attraction ahead of the Euros 2024.

“We thought the cost of living would become a challenge this summer, however our huge range of garden products have already started moving and with the weather improving and longer days, the sales have only increased.

“Another huge opportunity for us is the Taylor Swift Eras Tour finally making its way over to the UK in June. And we are ready with an abundance of stock ready for the Swifties to wear, including our brand new range of cowboy hats with diamante trim and marabou.”

party is of course associated with weddings – and there is still a preference to tie the knot in the summer months.

“And the beauty of the wedding business for event decorators is that it’s not just one big event, it’s many. From engagement parties to hen and stag do fun, to the ceremony, the reception and even seeing people off on honeymoon, every step presents an opportunity to celebrate with balloons.

“In terms of trends, we expect to see a continuation of the beautiful balloons and flowers combination that has been popular over the last few years. In terms of colour schemes, the wedding press indicates a resurgence in classic white, ivory and neutral colours with gold and green accents. Soft green tones such as Qualatex Cactus and Navy or dusky blues were also popular.”

Having been cautious ahead of the selling period, Cazaar is seeing strong sales for summer. Carmen Nesnas,

Boland also sees opportunities within the cost-of-living crisis. Mark furthers: “Available spare cash is still going to be an ongoing hindrance, but this is where the party industry can benefit in offering product where friends and families can create their own atmosphere at home if the cash is not there to pay for expensive tickets for major sporting events or festivals. Boland is well placed for both scenarios with several thousand products suitable for summer parties, sporting events and festivals.”

Dominique agrees: “The cost-of-living crisis is a challenge faced across the industry, however we see this as an opportunity for at-home partying. As customers choose to save money by staying in to celebrate this summer,

MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 29
Above: Cazaar has a range of England tableware ready for the Euros this summer. Left and below: Qualatex Deco Bubbles are ideal to share any message, like ‘will you be my bridesmaid?’ or the happy couple’s initials.
FOCUS ON: SUMMER EVENTS
Below: Rubies is excited to see everyone coming together to celebrate Pride in the summer.

SUMMER EVENTS

Boland has recently launched these striking drinks dispensers. With a capacity of nearly four litres, it’s big enough and bright enough to quench the thirst of any garden party.

Unique’s new gingham and floral party accessories are the ideal décor for a summer soiree. Featuring a green gingham pattern complemented with white flowers and pastel blue tones. The range will suit any summer afternoon teas, baby showers or birthday celebrations

Amscan’s Tiki Bar Kit is easy to assemble and provides the perfect topper for your table for hosting this summer. Add over a drinks or buffet table for instant summer vibes or team with the bumper summer décor pack, comprising leaf garland, letter banner, leis, and themed hanging décor.

With the new Boland drinks dispenser, you need something to drink from, so Boland is also offering these neon party cups.

The Topicana range from Amscan is the ideal summer tableware range. Comprising on-trend colour palette and tiki icon print, this tableware and decoration range is designed for a garden soiree this summer.

If you want to stand out at the next festival you go to, these caps from Boland are a must-have.

Amscan’s solid colour tableware can be used for barbecues, school fetes and summer fairs, and many other occasions. Comprising 18 colours and seven sustainable formats including reusable items, this range can be mixed and matched for any theme, or simply add some colour to teatime.

The Stadium snack tray from Amscan is ideal for the Euros this summer. Comprising a build-yourown cardboard stadium, perfect for snacks and finger food, the tray measures 63cm x 38cm and is the perfect centrepiece for a match.

The strawberry pinata from Unique is the ideal accompaniment to summer celebrations. Have fun with the pinata at a garden picnic or simply use this as décor for a Wimbledon theme get together.

The ice buckets from Amscan are available in two sizes and in a clear finish to coordinate with any theme. The reusable buckets keep drink cool, with one styled for larger bottles and one more suited to cans or smaller individual bottles and two handles on either side for ease of use.

MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 31
FOCUS ON: SUMMER EVENTS

SUMMER EVENTS

With the launch of its new 260s, which have expanded the neon family already rich of several round sizes, Gemar has got its very own bracelets. Its neon balloons will give a bright and cheerful atmosphere during the day and are super cool when the sun goes down. Turn on your UV lights to get into the neon mood.

Celebrate Pride month in style with Rubies Rainbow Cape, featuring the iconic rainbow colours, symbolising unity and diversity. Perfect for those who don’t want to carry a flag during Pride events, or just to add flare to their party costume. Add a pair of Rubies’ Rainbow Sunglasses to complete the outfit.

Once you pop you just can’t stop – Smiffys new Pringles costume is an easy novelty option for festivals this summer.

and

Smiffys has expanded its hippie range with new 60s and 70s costumes. With bright, psychedelic and crochet prints, these dresses and co-ord sets are festival ready.

Qualatex has seen a trend for Navy and dusky blues for wedding season this year.

Colour trends for summer parties are favouring bright displays of colour such as pinks, corals and oranges – like the summer sunshine evoked in this colour card from Qualatex

Opposuits is offering a range of swim shorts set to be popular for summer parties in licensed designs including Spongebob, TMNT and Pokemon, as well as non-licensed options, such as the Flamingo print.

Get yourself dressed up and ready for a night full of

fun and great

Navy cashmere colours combined with Qualatex’s Chrome Gold makes for sophisticated and elegant on-trend décor this summer. The Deco Bubble balloons from Qualatex can be used for all occasions. music, memories with Cazaar’s Cowboy Hats with diamante detailing, become a country gal or guy, singing the night away. Perfect for the upcoming Taylor Swift Eras Tour in June 2024.
MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 33
FOCUS ON: SUMMER EVENTS

As summer approaches, the annual influx of prewedding parties is being organised, along with group parties and outings for sports events, festivals and general get- togethers. PPE catches up with suppliers to find out what’s trending this year and what the expectations are for hen and stag season.

crowd pleasers

ome what may, hens and stags will always pull out all the stops to celebrate ahead of the big ‘I do’. Whether it’s a night out or a trip away, there’s always room for costumes, décor and more, to make sure the party

“The season of hen and stag parties has begun and the celebrations aren’t slowing down despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis,” begins Dominique Peckett, director at Smiffys. “Social media is flooded once again with prenuptial parties featuring décor, balloons, costumes and accessories.

“Staycation weekends seem to be the celebration of choice this year – city breaks and countryside getaways are a great opportunity for themed events.”

Holly Burgin, sales executive, Unique Party, agrees: “Hen and stag dos, whether they span an entire weekend or a more intimate affair, epitomise the joy of celebrating a key life milestone.

“These traditional events we all know well still play a key part in the wedding build up and although many people are now opting for staycations, the traditional decorations still have a role to play, despite the current cost-ofliving crisis. Balloon back drops for the bride-to-be and fancy dress for the stag continue to be popular party favourites.”

One emerging trend is a joint celebration. Fran Hales, Rubies’ head of portfolio and marketing, explains: “We’ve noticed people are starting to celebrate ‘sten’ parties, a joint celebration in place of stag and hen nights. Hosting celebrations at home has also become one of the key trends these past few years, ideal for couples on a budget, creating an opportunity for customers to

Right: Amscan’s new range of humour costumes are perfect for bridal party celebrations. Choose from food items, beverages, stick people and even a dart board to get your celebrations off to a fun start. Below: The officially licensed Mario and Luigi kits from Disguise are ideal for stags.tour with a new range of cowboy hats this summer.
34 MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE FOCUS ON: HEN AND STAG

be as creative as possible with their celebrations and costume themes in the comfort of their own homes.

“Our newest upcoming product includes Teletubbies headbands, perfect for a colourful nostalgic night amongst friends and family, so keep your eyes peeled for their release soon.”

DIY celebrations

Likely a result of continued budget pressures, the DIY theme is continuing. Jen Wilson, head of design and marketing at Amscan explains: “We’ll be seeing more DIY weddings, with couples building or making what they can to set the scene for their nuptials. We see this being extended to pre-wedding celebrations too, with people transforming spaces themselves. With plenty of latex balloons to create the ultimate backdrop, as well as faux flowers with eucalyptus garlands, to create a floral extravaganza.

“We’re seeing plenty of handmade tassel garlands converting spaces. Why not consider using our metallic tablecovers, door curtains and solid coloured table rolls to create the perfect swag garlands?”

specialises in. Male ballerina and queen are our two favourite outfits from the past two seasons and I expect this to

Amscan is expecting many celebrations to move to after the wedding this year. Jen continues: “We expect to see couples opting for smaller, more intimate weddings, with only close friends and family attending the ceremony, but followed by a party for a wider guest list to attend and celebrate with the newlywed couple. This will allow for the party to be curated exactly how the couple want, plus bring everyone together yet making costs manageable for their budget.”

Pop music and social media can influence trends. Paul Lewis, UK & IE sales agent for Widmann expands: “We are going into summer with a emphasis on cowgirls for women, thanks to the new Beyonce country album and the TikTok dances that have spawned from the song. Cowboy hats and boots seem to be the big thing and I expect this to follow into the summer.

“For stags, this is what Widmann

Dominique agrees: “For hen parties, Western and disco themes are standing out as key trends this summer. As well as the classic novelty items and sashes, the Last Disco and Rodeo trends have seen cowboy hats, disco accessories and everything that sparkles soar in popularity this summer.

“In terms of stag themes, comedy is king as always. The more embarrassing the better, as the stag is dressed as a baby, a bride or a stripper. Matching group costumes also remain strong for stag parties and festivals, including shell suits, prisoner and jockey costumes.”

Outside of costumes, balloons can become a part of the fun. Anna Hickman, product manager for Pioneer Europe

comments: “When it comes to balloons for hens and stags, a simple bunch of balloons always adds a fun element. Gifting balloons are also a great way to reveal a surprise activity for the hen do or stag do.”

As well as pre-wedding celebrations, festivals over the summer will also bring groups together to party. Edwin Klein, key account manager and Jafeth Vermeij, account manager at Opposuits, explain: “With summer coming up it is time for weddings and festivals. In these times, we see an increase in group orders with several resellers. This can be in the form of suits, but also character items such as onesies are a trending item for these kinds of events, since there are a lot of character duos, such as Mario and Luigi, which are suitable for bachelor parties.

“This would be a period where we can most definitely analyse the field and our sales better to maximise sales even more since we are somewhat in a lower season during spring/summer.”

To find out what new products are available to maximise sales this season, simply turn the page.

MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 35
Below: Smiffys is tapping into the Western trend by expanding its offering of cowboy hats.
FOCUS ON: HEN AND STAG
Right: The Solid Neon Suits from Opposuits are available in new colours including this Yellow version – ideal for stag groups. Right: The new Bride Cap from Boland bridges the extreme from sophistication to sparkle bling. Inset: The Minnie Rose Gold Ears from Disguise are perfect for hens.
CONTACT US NOW TO PLACE YOUR ORDER AND INFORMATION ON OUR NEWEST ITEMS SALES@OPPOSUITS.COM • WHOLESALE.OPPOSUITS.COM

HEN AND STAG PRODUCTS

The Team Bride Stuffing Balloon from Pioneer Europe is ideal as hen party décor.

The bride’s last disco trend is going strong this summer, with themed décor and accessories all coming together to create the insta-perfect hen party. Smiffys’ new white iridescent tinsel jacket is perfect for the disco bride and the Fever Disco Bunny mask adds to the fun.

It doesn’t get more stag do than pints and pizzas. Smiffys has added to its novelty costume range for 2024 and these food and drink costumes make a great group theme.

Add some Disney magic to the

or

party

Western fashion and country music is everywhere and hen do trends have followed suit. Adding to its existing range of colourful, embellished cowboy hats for 2024, Smiffys has launched a new range including a stitched metallic pink hat and a black and white cow print version.

Boland’s new bride set includes necklace, tiara and veil and sash to kit the bride to be out for her big weekend.

Comprising four animal styles and one zookeeper, Amscan’s costumes are perfect for stag groups who want to be easily identifiable while celebrating. For the groom – the safari style comprises matching khaki beige top and shorts with belt. Hat sold separately. The rest of the stags can choose from five styles of onesie each with printed detail, supper front and printed character hood.

Ballet dancers have been a favourite costume for stags over the past few years and Widmann trend to continue.

Be ready to say I do with Amscan’s Team Bride range. Comprising tableware, décor, balloons and wearables, the assortment’s on-trend colour palette is versatile to curate a unique bride to be experience. From tattoos to sashes, headbands and favours, mix with the rose gold metallic ranges for adding extra sparkle.

Make anyone’s hen, stag or even sten a weekend to remember with Rubies’ costumes – whether silly or nostalgic, there are products under every theme. Rubies’ top product tip is the Barbie Cowgirl costume, adding a fun, signature pink flair to the night.

Opposuits solid colour suit in the new Neon Pink is ideal for anyone you always lose in groups activities, or the one who wants to steal the show at prom night.

These officially licensed Mario and Luigi kits from Disguise feature a signature character hat, designed with meticulous attention to detail of the characters and a sticker moustache.

MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 37
hen with the Minnie Red Queen Ears from Disguise – ideal to pinpoint the bride, to use as a group accessory.

Gloria Veta, global brand and sales director at Gemar talks about getting hands on, social media, how fast the market is changing and more.

Never stop learning

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT AT THE COMPANY?

Leading a team of talented individuals who share our vision. When you work for something you love, it’s called passion and sharing that passion has propelled Gemar to become a leading brand within the balloon and party industry.

FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB?

Getting involved with the job handson and networking with people across the globe. It’s an amazing learning experience and has contributed to my personal growth.

LEAST FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB?

Taking decisions that will impact the people you work with, it’s a tremendous responsibility and often very difficult.

Our staff, from the back benches. It’s thanks to their hard work and dedication that we manufacture over six million balloons a day in over 100 different shapes, sizes and colours and deliver to over 50 different countries worldwide. We are Gemar thanks to these great people.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE WITHIN THE PARTY INDUSTRY THAT YOU HAVE SEEN SINCE YOU HAVE WORKED IN IT?

I’ve been in this industry the past 25 years, but the way social media has impacted and shaped the relationship a brand can establish with its clients or customers is probably the most impactful change I’ve seen.

WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

Well, a few pieces of advice - never give up and never stop learning, be resilient, but always humble enough to know that there is always room for improvement.

BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE TAKEN AWAY FROM THE LAST YEAR?

That the market is changing at an extremely fast pace, we need to be ready for how the current AI revolution will impact and shape the future demand for our products.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE PARTY INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not fighting the old, but on building the new.”   I wouldn’t change a thing of the party industry, but I will endeavour to keep on changing, improving and doing my best to shape what will be.

As brand and sales manager of Gemar, I’m honoured to share our commitment to sustainability and innovation. But as a parent with young children, I’m also deeply invested in creating a better future for the next generation.

For over a century, Gemar has been at the forefront of innovation in the balloon industry. From our humble beginnings to our current position as a global leader, we’ve always embraced change and sought out new ways to meet the needs of our customers.

Gemar has been synonymous with quality and reliability in the balloon industry. But today, we’re faced with a new imperative: sustainability. As I watch my children grow and imagine the world they’ll inherit, I’m more determined than ever to ensure that Gemar plays its part in building a better future for them.

At Gemar, we’re not just in the business of making balloons – we’re in the business of creating memories. And I believe that those memories should be as sustainable as they are special. That’s why we’re working tirelessly to ensure that every balloon we produce is not only beautiful and high-quality, but also eco-friendly and responsibly sourced.

IF YOU DIDN’T WORK IN THE PARTY INDUSTRY, WHAT INDUSTRY WOULD YOU WORK IN AND WHY?

Hard to choose, I really enjoy my job and I love balloons, I would need to think hard to find something just as appealing.

WHO IS THE UNSUNG HERO OF THE COMPANY?
EXECUTIVE PROFILE
MAY/JUNE 2024 PROGRESSIVE PARTY EUROPE 39
Left: Gloria Veta Left: Giorgia Rocca, the fifth generation of the Rocca family. Gemar manufactures over six million balloons a day in over 100 different shapes sizes and colours.

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